This bobsled team proves it's possible to overcome every obstacle in your way.

No African country has ever competed in the bobsled at the Olympics, but that's going to change at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Three former track athletes from Nigeria are taking the Olympic stage in another sport altogether, one they began training for as a team only two years ago. Their road to Olympic glory will pit the athletes against more established teams from North America, Europe, and Asia — locales that all feature one element that Nigeria lacks: snow.

But the lack of winter conditions in their homeland is only one of many obstacles that the team has faced — and overcome — in just two years of existence. In their successful run-up to the Games, the team had very little external help in handling the logistics of creating and funding an Olympic team — they did it all by themselves.


In September 2016, Seun Adigun, a 2012 Olympic hurdler for Nigeria, invited runners Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga to join her bobsled team.

They were intrigued but knew next to nothing about the sport. Omeoga later joked about the meeting, "She kidnapped us. That's the story."

But after listening to  Adigun's pitch, Omeoga and Onwumere agreed to join as the brake-women for the team's sled. A team suddenly intact, the meeting ended with a declaration from Adigun on behalf of the nascent squad:

"Today we have decided that we are going to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games," she said.

Adigun was the only member with any bobsled experience, having trained with the U.S. team just eight months after watching her first race in 2014.

But even though the others were new to the sport, their previous pedigrees served as a vital asset. Historically, track athletes have enjoyed success in the transition to bobsled teams, but they have done so under far better circumstances than the Nigerian team. The team was, quite literally, nothing more than an idea at that early point — lacking funding, knowledge, and even a cohesive strategy as to how they would qualify for the game in a scant two years' time. And they were also missing an actual bobsled.

But Adigun, in what would be one of many instances of resourcefulness, took the matter into her own hands, building a sled from a local hardware store's scraps. Adigun named the ramshackle sled "Maeflower," the variant spelling a tribute to her stepsister, nicknamed Maemae, who died in a car wreck in 2009.

But as  the qualification deadlines loomed, the team still didn't have any money.

That's why two months after the team's creation, Adigun established a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money to travel, train, and compete in a manner comparable to their rivals. Fortunately, the inspiring story of the team's inception and goal buoyed their campaign. The team succeeded in raising $75,000 from strangers, $50,000 of which came from a single anonymous donor.

In addition to their GoFundMe, the athletes sought out funds from friends and family to cover the balance of their training expenses. They "started from zero," according to Akuoma Omeoga.

With yet another issue solved — or at least "managed" — it was time for the team to begin racing.

Over the next 14 months, the Nigerian bobsled team began to coalesce by following races in Park City, Whistler, and Calgary. And after competing in five races, they qualified for the Olympics.

Can't wait to see these ladies in action #nigerianbobsledteam

A post shared by BigDukeMusic (@bigdukemusik) on

Thanks to their ingenuity and perseverance, they have became the team to watch in Pyeongchang.

"We are this Cinderella story, and we didn't really mean it to be this," Adigun told The New York Times. "It comes with a lot more pressure, but I'm not thinking about it that way. I put a plan down, and I am ready to execute that plan."

That plan won't just serve the Nigerian bobsled team. Their approach is an inspiration for any subsequent Olympic hopefuls looking to blaze their nation's trail to the biggest sporting event in the world. To compete at an Olympic level, an emergent team must contend with far more than just the athletic aspect of competition, and those challenges often require out-of-the-box thinking, just like the Nigerian team has demonstrated countless times over.

The Nigerian bobsled team's saga proves to the world, especially aspirational children who may be watching a sport for the first time, that those obstacles, much like the athletic ones, can be overcome as long as a team keeps pushing forward to both plan and prepare for everything that comes its way.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."